Cards sponsor three auction items to benefit LUNGevity

Cards sponsor three auction items to benefit LUNGevity

SAN DIEGO -- For a third straight year, Major League Baseball's club public relations directors and their staffs have built a unique auction of baseball experiences to raise money for cancer research. This year, however, the cause is especially personal.

The group lost one of its own in February, when Monica Barlow, the 36-year-old director of public relations for the Orioles, passed away after a 4 1/2-year battle with lung cancer. Barlow had been one of the biggest proponents of this auction, which is why her fellow PR directors decided that the beneficiary of this year's auction should be LUNGevity, the nation's largest lung cancer-focused nonprofit foundation.

Details of the auction were released at a news conference on Monday in San Diego, the host city of this year's Winter Meetings. Bidding for the 82 baseball-related experiences and items has already gone live and will remain so until 10 p.m. CT on Thursday. Three of those unique experiences are sponsored by the Cardinals.

They include:

• A meet and greet with the Cardinals' 2015 All-Stars, where the highest bidder will have the opportunity to attend a game between July 24-Aug. 2 and have his or her photo taken with those players. The winner will receive two tickets to the game and take home two '15 National League All-Star batting practice jerseys -- (minimum bid: $400).

• An opportunity to watch St. Louis' April 19 game against Cincinnati from the best seats in the ballpark. The highest bidder will receive two Cardinals Club tickets, which include a buffet and in-seat food/beverage service, and a parking pass. A Cards player will also present the winner with a lap quilt featuring colored patches and ribbons representing the various cancer awareness groups -- (minimum bid: $500).

• A package of promotional items, which includes a complete set of all the giveaways the Cardinals will be handing out at their 2015 home games. The promotional sets will be delivered at two separate times during the season -- (minimum bid: $500).

A full list of experiences and items available can be found here. Bids will be accepted at that link and also through cardinals.com/prauction.

"I think every year, we're just trying to come up with something unique that fans aren't going to be able to get in other ways," said Melody Yount, the Cardinals' communications manager. "I don't think you can find someone who hasn't been touched by cancer, and I think it's fantastic that the PR community has noticed that this is touching lives in the baseball community and is hitting close to home. This is a way that we can show that we're thinking about you and supporting you and for those who have overcome it, that we appreciate that you're a survivor."

It hits especially close to home for Yount, who is among those survivors. After a two-year battle with breast cancer, she has been in remission since 2011. Along with Barlow and Shannon Forde (Mets), Yount has been one of those within MLB's public relations community to fight cancer within the last five years.

"I don't think I would speak out of turn if I say that Monica's passing shocked all of us," Yount said. "We knew she had been battling her cancer for four years, but we hoped she would battle it for 40 more years."

The timing of this auction is also meaningful, as it begins just days after the St. Louis sports community lost longtime columnist Bryan Burwell to cancer. Burwell was 59.

"With Bryan Burwell's passing, it was a reminder to those of us who have had cancer or those of us who has known someone with cancer how precious life is, which is why doing things like this is to feel like you're helping in the cause," Yount said. "It was really sad for all of us that knew Bryan and worked Bryan to lose him so fast."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.